"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Baby foodie

by Julie Tilsner on May 22, 2007

in Chew on This

ApplesI’m reading Ruth Reichl’s fantastic book, “Comfort me with Apples.” It’s the second part of her memoir, after the best-selling and also page-turning “Tender at the Bone.” This one details her transformation from right-on Berkeley foodie into a nationally-known restaurant critic. Reichl, in case you don’t already know, is these days the editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine. She writes in an engaging and lively style. And I am riveted.

The foie gras was molten velvet in my mouth, and when I took a sip of wine the flavor became even more intense, richer and rounder than it already was. Coleman looked at me, and I felt the thrill all the way down to my fingertips. I understood, for the first time ever, why those turn of the century restaurants had private rooms with velvet couches. I would  have liked a couch.

The scrambled eggs with truffles were even better than the foie gras. Minutes earlier I would not have thought it possible. each forkful was like biting off a piece of the sun. It was like musk and light, all at once, and suddenly I burst out, “This is what I always imagined sex would taste like.”

I like to read this sort of passage after I’ve gotten the kids down for the night and I’m tucking into my bowl of Cheerios, which are brilliantly set off by the cherry notes in my glass of two-buck-Chuck (merlot, 2007). Can you say Living Vicariously? Go on and try.

I had fois gras once. I think. Isn’t it like pate?

That’s the best part of this kind of book. As much as I love to wallow in another woman’s affairs and career-trajectory, I most enjoy confirming my suspicion that I am an infant in the world of food.

I know the surface. The stuff I’m supposed to know. The details you can pick up in any food magazine.  I know what three Michelin stars mean for a restaurant…but I’ve never been to one.  I know that black truffles are something to exclaim over. But I’ve never tasted one. My two meals in Paris consisted of an ice cream (which I bought from a street vendor, who then screamed at me in French when I found I didn’t have quite enough money and tried to indicate that I would get more from my stepfather, just inside the cafe. I was 11.) And a candy bar I bought at a vending machine during a 4-hour layover in the Gard du Nord. I don’t know the first thing about what wines pair with which flavor or exactly what a sauce bearnaise entails. I only know that there’s a whole world of sublime eating out there and I can’t even pronounce the name of the ingredients.

It keeps me humble whenever I start to crow about how good my lentil soup turned out last night.

Truth be told, I don’t know if I’ll ever scramble to this level of eating, much less cooking. I am made so happy by such simple tastes. Of course, if I can make a tortilla Espanola then there’s really no reason why I couldn’t make a passable pissaladiere nicoise, right?

But first I have to figure out what one is. And then I’d have to learn how to dice an onion properly, no?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Bad Home Cook May 22, 2007 at 11:55 am

Oh you have no idea…


AT May 22, 2007 at 11:26 am

A very tantalizing, alluring entry today Ms. Tilsner. Reichl’s excerpt you provided was also quite stimulating. (I gotta pass on the goose liver though). You could you try a nicoise salad on me sometime…how bad could that be?


holler May 22, 2007 at 5:28 pm

You make sure that knife is real sharp, or you will hurt yourself!


BaddAss MisterJ May 22, 2007 at 9:38 pm

Will you take a cooking class already??? You have the passion, drive, and inspiration, but you have one thing holding you back. . . YOU!
You’ll never know until you take a course or class (short term of course), to see if it’s for you.
You can’t get any worse! It’s all uphill from here!


Bad Home Cook May 23, 2007 at 10:53 am

Holler – Yay! I love Meme’s…..stay tuned, as I like to say!


holler May 23, 2007 at 8:15 am

Hi Julie,
I have tagged you to do a meme – 7 Random Foodie Facts about you!
Hope you will join in. It should be fun!
Tinned Tomatoes: Tag! You’re It!


Terry B May 25, 2007 at 10:28 am

I’m right there with you on foie gras. It’s pretty much like paté to me too. I’m occasionally tempted to order it here in Chicago, though, just to support the restaurants that thumb their noses at the City Council’s ridiculous ban on it.


BaddAss MisterJ May 25, 2007 at 10:57 am

Does Chicago still have that restaurant that serves Chicago-style Foie Gras hotdogs? Mmmm, now that’s some good eatin’!


BaddAss MisterJ May 25, 2007 at 11:07 am

In response to the Ruth’s excerpt from her book. I would like to quote a line from the great Mel Brooks movie, BLAZIN’ SADDLES, as said from the movie’s character villian, Taggart: “GEE, You sure have a purty tongue!”


Laura May 27, 2007 at 11:15 pm

I’ve read all of her books now and I buy Gourmet magazine just for her editor’s letter every month. And yet when I go to Paris all I do is eat my weight in pastry!


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